In Polite Company: A Novel (Paperback)
“This terrific debut lifts the veil on the charming old city of Charleston and a prominent Lowcountry family to deliver an entertaining story about becoming yourself without totally rejecting your past. Plus: debutante balls! I love this novel.” —Lauren Weisberger, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada and When Life Gives You Lululemons
A captivating debut novel that looks inside the private lives of Charleston aristocracy, where a former debutante learns that sometimes good behavior leads to bad decisions.
Tourists think they see the real Charleston, but Simons Smythe knows there’s more to her hometown than sweet tea and Southern hospitality. Behind the walled gardens, inside the fabled historic homes, live Charleston’s elite. Simons was born into this powerful aristocracy that has quietly ruled the city for centuries.
Simons’s family has a banner year ahead; Her older sister will give birth to her second child, and her younger sister will make her debut—a series of cocktail parties and balls to introduce her to society. And in one year, Simons plans to marry Trip. She hopes that’s enough time to fall back in love.
Simons produces the news at a local TV station, a job that increasingly tests her loyalty to her family and friends. On her days off, Simons surfs the waves of Folly Beach, crabs the salty rivers of Edisto Island, and follows her wayward heart to King Street bars. The one touchstone in this confusing time is her elegant and secretive grandmother, Laudie, who—repeatedly and mysteriously—urges Simons to “be brave”.
In this sparkling novel, Simons unlocks riddles from the past, flirts with a new future, and discovers that some rules are made to be broken.
Gervais Hagerty grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. After reporting and producing the news for both radio and television, she taught communications at The Citadel. When not writing, she works on local environmental and transportation issues. She lives in Charleston with her husband and two daughters. In Polite Company is her first novel.
“Here is the captivating story of a contemporary young woman navigating the expectations of family, the traditions of Charleston’s elite, and the fierce pull of her own heart... This is a beautiful debut novel.”
— Sue Monk Kidd, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“This terrific debut lifts the veil on the charming old city of Charleston and a prominent Lowcountry family to deliver an entertaining story about becoming yourself without totally rejecting your past. Plus: debutante balls! I love this novel.” — Lauren Weisberger, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada and When Life Gives You Lululemons
"Peek behind the veil of Charleston’s cobbled streets, Southern charm and pedigreed society. In Polite Company offers a nuanced look at birth and death, privilege and discrimination at odds between generations. Gervais Hagerty is an author to watch!”
— Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author
"Reading In Polite Company is like visiting a college friend from Charleston—the one who brings you to all the glamorous, old-fashioned events you might not otherwise get invited to...Gervais Hagerty’s keen insights on the quagmires of the modern South set it apart from other summer reads. I loved this book." — Katie Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Embassy Wife and Girls in Trucks
“Gervais Hagerty’s compelling debut novel allows us a fascinating glimpse into an elite Southern society trying to hold onto age-old traditions and values in a rapidly changing world... This is the kind of highly readable, richly populated, and beautifully written book you will be eager to recommend to others!”
— Cassandra King Conroy, award-winning author of Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy